A randomized controlled pilot study feasibility of a tablet-based guided audio-visual relaxation intervention for reducing stress and pain in adults with sickle cell disease

J Adv Nurs. 2016 Jun;72(6):1452-63. doi: 10.1111/jan.12895. Epub 2016 Jan 15.


Aim: To test feasibility of a guided audio-visual relaxation intervention protocol for reducing stress and pain in adults with sickle cell disease.

Background: Sickle cell pain is inadequately controlled using opioids, necessitating further intervention such as guided relaxation to reduce stress and pain.

Design: Attention-control, randomized clinical feasibility pilot study with repeated measures.

Methods: Randomized to guided relaxation or control groups, all patients recruited between 2013-2014 during clinical visits, completed stress and pain measures via a Galaxy Internet-enabled Android tablet at the Baseline visit (pre/post intervention), 2-week posttest visit and also daily at home between the two visits. Experimental group patients were asked to use a guided relaxation intervention at the Baseline visit and at least once daily for 2 weeks. Control group patients engaged in a recorded sickle cell discussion at the Baseline visit. Data were analysed using linear regression with bootstrapping.

Results: At baseline, 27/28 of consented patients completed the study protocol. Group comparison showed that guided relaxation significantly reduced current stress and pain. At the 2-week posttest, 24/27 of patients completed the study, all of whom reported liking the study. Patients completed tablet-based measures on 71% of study days (69% in control group, 72% in experiment group). At the 2-week posttest, the experimental group had significantly lower composite pain index scores, but the two groups did not differ significantly on stress intensity.

Conclusion: This study protocol appears feasible. The tablet-based guided relaxation intervention shows promise for reducing sickle cell pain and warrants a larger efficacy trial.

Trial registration: The ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier is: NCT02501447.

Keywords: PAINReportIt; clinical trial; feasibility study; guided relaxation; non-drug pain treatment strategies; nursing; self-management; sickle cell pain; stress; tablet-based intervention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain
  • Pain Management*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Relaxation
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02501447